Thursday, November 11, 2010

Children's Church

I've been thinking a lot about the benefits and drawbacks of keeping children in worship. We have been to a lot of churches where children's church is not only available, but where parents are strongly encouraged to send their kids. Ushers will come and tell parents where their children should be and the church bulletin even says something along the lines of "your children will be happier and have more fun if they go to children's church".

2 year olds go to the 2 year old class, 1st graders go to the 1st grade class, teenagers go to youth group, young marrieds to the young married class, seniors to the senior class, etc. etc. We are segregating our churches exactly like the world segregates by age. If mentoring is taking place, it's not by the parents but by some professional (i.e. youth pastor). This type of divided family worship is not modeled in scripture. Instead parents are exhorted to disciple their own children (Deut 6:6-7).

At our church, one children's church class is available to children under 6. Half the parents send their kids; half worship as a family. The idea is: If your kid isn't old enough to understand all that is being preached in the service, they can attend children's church where a sermon will be suited more to their understanding. My question is this: if you have children's church, do you think you are finding out about it when your kid disobeys or has a bad attitude in class? Or if you teach children's church, do you tell parents when they need to discipline their child for some heart issue?

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
-Deut. 6:6-7
It is our responsibility as parents to disciple our children in the Word. (From the scripture above, it sounds like we're supposed to be training our children all. the. time.) So, if it's our job to disciple them, what difference does it make if there is one hour a week where they hear teaching they don't totally understand? How often do they hear you and hubby or you and a friend talking about things they don't completely understand? Is it better that you are able to be there with them to correct heart attitudes as they pop up?

Hubby and I were recently talking about the fact that in the past year at least, we have never had a children's church teacher tell us that Daniel or Lydia disobeyed or had a bad attitude in class. And we were both confident that it's not because they obey perfectly and always have great attitudes. ;)

I don't have answers, only questions. But I'm thinking about it. . .


Mendi... said...

Neither Kyle nor I are at all in favor of children's church in any way shape or form. It's not about discipline for us...however, is there a "magic age" where they start understanding?? It is something they learn by listening and taking part in. Kids don't know how to sit, be quiet and listen attentively because they are never taught and then all of a sudden at whatever "magic age" each particular church determines, the kids are thrown into the reality of "real church" and are expected to act like an adult. As well, with any children's church or nursery, some adult is missing out on hearing God's Word...being fed...taking part in worship.

We've taught our girls ever since they were babbling infants (I say that in a good way) to sit quietly which is why we have always been able to take them anywhere (funerals, weddings, church services, airplanes,ect...)without worrying how they will act and how noisy they will be. Believe me, we've received lots of criticism and ridicule but now that our girls are 16 and 10, we are SO thankful that the Lord directed us to keep them with us and that we didn't fall under the pressure and condemnation of man. Don't take this wrong and I'm not being boastful in any way, however they are beautiful, respectful, God-honoring girls who love worshiping as a family and because they were "exposed" to the meat of the Word from the time that they were born, they understand, discern and are stretched in their faith and walk with the Lord more than some adults. What they hear isn't "foreign" it's familiar. They are further in their faith with Jesus Christ at 16 and 10 than I was at 30. No credit to us as parents, but to their Maker and Creator!

Hope that this gives you some concepts to ponder...


Joanne said...

I have never thought about what my kids were getting away with in children's church! But I do know that when I teach, unless it's a very close friend, I never tell parents what their kid did in class. It's awkward and uncomfortable for me & I guess if I really boil it down: it's not worth my discomfort to let the parents know what they need to work on with their kids. Wow! I'm really selfish!!

On The Fence said...

"because they were "exposed" to the meat of the Word from the time that they were born, they understand, discern and are stretched in their faith and walk with the Lord more than some adults."
I think it's great that you keep your kids with you. We currently keep our older kids (9yrs & up) with us but send our youngers (5yrs)to CC. Wife & I are discussing keeping them all with us. My question is, should'nt they be getting milk first before meat. Any thoughts?

MamaMahnken said...

"My question is, should'nt they be getting milk first before meat. Any thoughts?"

On The Fence, if the only place your children are getting milk is at church on Sundays, maybe. But in our house, our kids have been hearing Bible stories on their level since they were eeny weeny on a near daily basis. I certainly don't expect the 2 minute retelling of the story of Jonah for the 15th time to be all the Bible my children get! Just my thought.

Ginger said...

Ditto MamaMahnken. :)

debhmom3 said...

We had always worshiped as a family, but recently we went to a church that had children's church. We gave our youngest the choice to go or not (it was only about 20 minutes vs. the entire service). She went twice and after that choose not to go anymore. I think if they don't grow up doing it, they won't find it that interesting.

Mendi... said...

Even before I read MamaMahnken's response, the thoughts that the Lord brought to my mind were that "the milk" should first and foremost come from the home setting and then reaffirmed in Sunday School if that is offered in the church. Look at how many teenagers have "wandered" from the faith because they are no longer "entertained". To us, that is what Sunday School, Children's Church and most youth activities obtain...entertainment. At the point that kids reach that "magic age" and are placed in the adult church setting, it is boring, uneventful and too difficult to understand. This would be the reason the majority of youth in this nation have no hunger or thirst for God.